Why did their broth always turn so gelatinous when mine was so hit or miss? If pressure cooking is so hard on nutrients, how can it make such perfect broth with the tell-tale presence of perfect gelatin? Almost all foods contain water, be they meat, veggies, or fruit.
As the food heats up, a variety of molecular changes happen, ultimately resulting in cooked food. The primary changes have to do with the heating and transferring of water molecules.
The single greatest limiting factor on how long it takes to cook food is the boiling point of water. Folks who live at high altitudes know this first hand. Their air pressure is lower, and so their water boils at lower temperatures. In the mile-high city of Denver, for example, water boils at F, and in the camps on Mount Everest water boils at F. For those of us at sea level, it boils at F. Cooking at these lower air pressures affects cook times for many foods since water will begin evaporating sooner and drying out the food more quickly.
In a low-pressure environment, cooking times on moist foods must be increased. Turning up the heat will not help cook food faster! Theoretically, if you were at a high enough altitude, you could boil water at room temperature.
Heather from Toronto. The perfect soup. When putting the pressure cooker in the sink, tilt the handle up so the water flows away from you. Preparing healthy delicious meals in a flash is also far easier than you think. Dry cooking refers to a direct exposure of food to heat without a thermal transfer medium, such as water or oil.
Just as cooking times are lengthened by cooking at the lower air pressure of higher altitudes, cooking times are decreased by cooking at the higher air pressure created by a pressure cooker. Because the boiling point of the water inside a pressure cooker is elevated, you can cook the food at a slightly higher temperature and avoid water loss.
In cooking, liquid loss equals over-cooking, drying out, or burning your food. By avoiding water loss while maintaining higher temperatures, your food cooks more quickly. What are those slightly higher temperatures? Most pressure cookers will raise the boiling point of water inside them to around F. This is lower than the lowest setting on Crock Pots, which is usually F.
Traditionally, before the invention of modern pressure cookers which are essentially pots with really well-sealed lids , cooks used to try to accomplish this faster cooking time by weighing down the lids of their pots with stones.
This prompted one French inventor to created the first mechanically sealed lid for a pot in the lid was screwed in place and weighed down with weights. Pressure cooking was born.
Did you know that in numerous studies, pressure cooking has been found to preserve the nutrients in food better than any other method? In this study , pressure cooking was shown to be the best method for preserving the ascorbic acid and beta-carotene in spinach and amaranth. If a temperature is high enough to start destroying heat-sensitive nutrients, then those heat-sensitive nutrients will be lost regardless of whether the cooking temperature is F or F.
By cooking foods for shorter lengths of time, pressure cookers preserve the nutrients better, despite cooking at higher temperatures. Why do health and nutrition experts always tell you to give preference to steaming vegetables over boiling them?
Because the nutrients leach out of the vegetable and into the water, and then we dump the water out when serving the veggies! Pressure cooking uses very little water compared to many other cooking methods, essentially acting like a steam cooker where the steam is not allowed to escape easily thereby building the air pressure. Less water comes into contact with your food to leach away vitamins and minerals.
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And if you do as recommended and let your pressure cooker cool naturally before removing the lid so that the steam condenses back into the small amount of liquid in the pot, you can consume all the liquid with your meal and limit the loss of nutrients to water even further. Yep, you read that right. The great enemies found in grains, seeds, and legumes are reduced far more by pressure cooking than by boiling. Phytic acid binds minerals and other important nutrients in our digestive tract, keeping us from using them.
By reducing the phytic acid content of grains and legumes, we increase their nutrient-availability and render them more digestible. Pressure cooking is also on par with fermentation as the best way to reduce the lectins yet another anti-nutrient in grains. Yes, high-temperature cooking of some foods, like potatoes, does cause the formation of carcinogenic compounds like acrylomides.
But those same compounds will not form in a pressure cooker! Those compounds mostly form in dry cooking methods like roasting or grilling, or in an ultra high-temperature environment like deep frying. Swiss researchers wanted to test this and found that potatoes cooked at high pressure for 20 minutes had almost no acrylamide formation when compared to other high-temperature cooking methods. And since a potato will be done after about 10 minutes at high pressure, this was definitely overkill! And so does every other cooking method out there!
That is, in fact, one of the primary things that cooking is intended to do. It begins the process of breaking down the proteins in the food, making the food easier for us to digest and assimilate. You want denatured proteins. YAY soaking!
Many studies have been done on how pressure-cooking increases the digestibility of proteins, including this one done with mung beans and this one done with rice. It may not be ideal for all things. And, it can be an excellent choice for last-minute meals. Creating a pressure difference like this is unnatural , you say. The difference in the boiling point of water in a pressure cooker vs. Miami sea level is the exact same difference found between Miami and La Paz.
So ask yourself if the roast in Miami is somehow less nutritious or digestible than the roast made in LaPaz.
The answer is no. Both roasts had the same water loss. The only reason one took far less time to cook was that the higher air pressure meant that you could cook it at a higher temperature before you started losing too much water and overcooking the food. The fact is that the science shows pressure cooking is healthy , that it can preserve more heat-sensitive nutrients than any other cooking method because of its shorter cook times.
The fact is that the difference it creates in the boiling point of water is well within the range of a normal difference on this planet. If you used a pressure cooker in La Paz, it would mean that you were cooking your food in the length of time folks living in Florida take for granted. Would that be somehow unnatural or wrong?
It would be like cooking in Miami! There are plenty of others that exceed it in altitude by a mile or more. Their boiling points are even lower!
Their cook times even longer! Pressure cookers just use technology and a nifty trick of physics to act like a great equalizer. I just acquired my first one and wrote a review of it here. I also clarified the meaning of a couple sentences elsewhere in the post. Thanks for all your help fine tuning this! You guys are awesome.